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School cat's a class act

CHILDREN and teachers at Spinnens Acre Junior School at Chatham have been finding their very own cat a purr-fect stress buster. Head teacher Gwen Thomas fell in love with Chocolate the kitten after his mother was run over by a car and decided to adopt him.

But when Chocolate didn't get on with her other two cats, Miss Thomas decided to make him a permanent school pet. Since that day, the little ball of fur has played a key role in cheering up upset pupils and helping stressed teachers relax in the staff room.

Miss Thomas said: "The deputy head brought the whole litter of kittens in after their mum was run over and I just fell in love with Chocolate. The kittens were fostered by the Cat Protection League for a while and they came to visit me to see if I was a suitable owner. I was quite nervous really. It was like being inspected by the social services."

She passed the test and has made Chocolate an honorary member of school in June. "The children adore him," said Miss Thomas. "He is especially good with children who are ill. They can pet him and it usually makes them feel a lot better."

A number of health and safety checks had to be undertaken to ensure that Chocolate's presence wouldn't set off any allergies in the children. "He is kept in the reception and staff room area." explained Miss Thomas. "He is a really special cat and he's helped bring one or two children out of their shells."

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